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Songs Of The Winter Nights
by [?]


I.

Back shining from the pane, the fire
Seems outside in the snow:
So love set free from love’s desire
Lights grief of long ago.

The dark is thinned with snow-sheen fine,
The earth bedecked with moon;
Out on the worlds we surely shine
More radiant than in June!

In the white garden lies a heap
As brown as deep-dug mould:
A hundred partridges that keep
Each other from the cold.

My father gives them sheaves of corn,
For shelter both and food:
High hope in me was early born,
My father was so good.

II.

The frost weaves ferns and sultry palms
Across my clouded pane;
Weaves melodies of ancient psalms
All through my passive brain.

Quiet ecstasy fills heart and head:
My father is in the room;
The very curtains of my bed
Are from Love’s sheltering loom!

The lovely vision melts away;
I am a child no more;
Work rises from the floor of play;
Duty is at the door.

But if I face with courage stout
The labour and the din,
Thou, Lord, wilt let my mind go out
My heart with thee stay in.

III.

Up to my ear my soul doth run–
Her other door is dark;
There she can see without the sun,
And there she sits to mark.

I hear the dull unheeding wind
Mumble o’er heath and wold;
My fancy leaves my brain behind,
And floats into the cold.

Like a forgotten face that lies
One of the speechless crowd,
The earth lies spent, with frozen eyes,
White-folded in her shroud.

O’er leafless woods and cornless farms,
Dead rivers, fireless thorps,
I brood, the heart still throbbing warm
In Nature’s wintered corpse.

IV.

To all the world mine eyes are blind:
Their drop serene is–night,
With stores of snow piled up the wind
An awful airy height.

And yet ’tis but a mote in the eye:
The simple faithful stars
Beyond are shining, careless high,
Nor heed our storms and jars.

And when o’er storm and jar I climb–
Beyond life’s atmosphere,
I shall behold the lord of time
And space–of world and year.

Oh vain, far quest!–not thus my heart
Shall ever find its goal!
I turn me home–and there thou art,
My Father, in my soul!